Government pledges £5m to tackle rogue landlords

 

Greg Clark the Communities Secretary has announced that Councils will be provided with the £5m to put a stop to the activities of rogue landlords and tackle the plague of “beds in sheds”.

Local authorities will be encourages to bid for a portion of the new funding by setting out their plans for a major “cracking down” on rogue landlords who provide are providing unsafe housing, in the main houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and “beds in sheds” with living conditions that exploit their tenants.

The idea for the extra money is to give councils the resources to carry our more inspections and to pursue the rogues through the courts. Unsafe properties will be closed down and sheds and buildings that are prohibited demolished.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has said:

“Council-led efforts mean more than 3,000 landlords have faced enforcement action and even prosecution in the last 2 years – today’s £5m funding, combined with the extra powers we’re bringing forward, will help them go even further.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis has said:

“The government is determined to crack down on rogue landlords and this funding, alongside measures in the Housing and Planning Bill, will further strengthen councils’ powers to tackle poor-quality privately rented homes in their area.”

Additional measures in the Housing and Planning Bill include:

  • Seeking banning orders for the most prolific and serious offenders.
  • Issuing penalty notices of up to £5,000 for breaches.
  • A new process for abandoned tenancies, which would allow a landlord to recover the home without the need to go to court.
  • Creating a database of rogue landlords and letting agents.
  • Applying a more stringent ‘fit and proper’ person test for landlords to help ensure that they have the skills to manage properties and a contact readily available to tenants.
  • Extending Rent Repayment Orders to cover situations where a tenant has been illegally evicted or the landlord has failed to rectify a serious health and safety hazard in the property, and allowing local authorities to retain that money for housing purposes where the rent was paid through Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

The Residential Landlords’ Association’s (RLA) proposal in its election manifesto to use Council Tax forms to discover rented properties is the subject of a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Dame Angela Watkinson and currently passing through Parliament with its second reading slated for 16th January 2016.

Dame Angela has said:

“This is a very simple Bill and will cost very little to implement. Its purpose is to identify criminal landlords who treat their tenants badly and do not keep their properties in habitable condition. It will be helpful to both tenants and local councils.”

The Bill will enable councils to request details of a property’s tenure and details of the landlord on council tax registration forms, which tenants must complete. Tenants are already legally entitled to know the name of the landlord when signing a new tenancy agreement. By having tenants disclose this information to the local authority, it will make it much more difficult for criminal landlords to avoid being identified.

The information collected will also help councils in dealing with other housing related problems such as illegal letting, housing benefit fraud and unregistered houses in multiple occupation, and assist HMRC in seeking the minority of landlords who do not pay their tax.

If the rogue landlord measures in the Housing and Planning Bill  becomes law, a database of rogue landlords and letting agents will be established. This is being referred to by many as a ‘blacklist’ of offenders.

The database will be updated and maintained by England’s local council housing authorities. An offending landlord or property manager may then be entered into the database if they have been convicted of a “banning order” offence.

Authorities will need to make applications to include landlords or agents in the database. Entries made must then be maintained for the period of the banning order. Landlords will have to be notified if the authority makes an application against them and they will have the right to appeal.

The database will contain the entrant’s address and contact details, the period for which they will be included in the database and the details of any banning orders or convictions currently in force or enforced in the past.

See – New funding to crack down on rogue landlords and tackle “beds in sheds” here

 


Article courtesy of LandlordZONE

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